Sunday, November 19, 2006

Welcome to the Darkness

I think the title says it all. A little over a week ago, I was in my weekly session with the psychiatrist. [For those of you who went through Psych 101 in college, he's a Freudian psychoanalyst - blame it all on your mother. Current mental health practice is more behavioral in nature - your insurance won't pay to dig in to your childhood issues, so let's change your behaviors, and hope that helps.(BTW, it doesn't.)]

Anyways, we are still working on history. Family/friend mapping, family history of psychiatric disorders, etc. In that particular session, he asked me for my earliest memories of my Mom and Dad. (For the record, Mom broke with reality a long time ago. She’s been paranoid, delusional, and in denial since I was in elementary school. See “blame it on mother” above.)

So I dredged up the memories. And they were good. Stuff like my Dad asking if I’d heard the reindeer on the roof Christmas Eve. Mom in the kitchen with my sister and me, baking; letting me play with the extra pie crust dough.

I started crying during our session. The doctor asked me why I was crying. I said, “Because I want that back.”

I was still crying down on the street after our session. I was still crying all the way back to my office. And I was still crying as I gulped down the giant piece of Hershey’s chocolate that had been hidden in the back of my desk drawer.

It felt like a giant gaping black hole had opened up inside me. Sucking everything it could inside, trying to fill the gap. And no matter what, that hole wouldn’t close.

That night, my Dad called with the news that my grandmother (92 years-old and in frail health) had fallen and broken her leg and hip. Adding to that stressor is the fact that my 72 year-old father is dealing with his own mortality. He’s recently been diagnosed with myelofibrosis, an untreatable cancer of the bone marrow. On that night, we were still waiting for the results of some tests that were to show how advanced his condition had become.

I made it to the weekend, and thought, “Eh, not so bad.” But I spent most of the weekend in bed. I only left the covers to take Fred (see posts below) for his walks and to make myself some lunch or dinner.

When I returned to the office on Monday, I was still struggling. I no longer felt the overwhelming presence of that giant black hole, but I still felt the “sucking”. And a sense of emptiness.

The week continued with more weeping. (I’m not normally a watering-pot, but last week I could have kept the botanical garden moist.) Anger, frustration, irratibility, aggravation, apathy – these were my friends.

I debated calling the doctor, but in the end, decided to hold off for my regular weekly visit. (Bad idea, I know.) I came in crying. May as well start as you mean to go on….

We reviewed the last week, and then the doctor asked me to provide some details about when my mother started to go “off the rails”. Not great memories.

After writing a new prescription for a stronger dose of anti-depressants, the doctor decided that maybe taking a session break over Thanksgiving week wasn’t such a good idea. We’re due to reconvene on Tuesday.

The way its going, I may still be crying by then. While the news from Dad and Grandma is good (very good), I can’t seem to close off this black hole inside. For the first time ever, I called in sick without an illness.

I was hoping my four-day weekend would give me enough time for the new dosing to kick in to gear. So far, I’m still waiting for the anti-depressant high, and I have to be back at the office on Monday.

I guess it’s a good thing I do the office ordering. Maybe they won’t notice the two boxes of Kleenex I’ve gone through already.

[Okay, since I couldn’t admit it to my doctor, maybe I’ll try it here: I’m not afraid that I’ll hurt myself – actively. More that I’m afraid I might be capable of hurting myself passively – through delayed reaction (that apathy thing).

The only time I’ve ever been this close to the edge before was just before I left university. I used to just get in my car and drive. My fantasy was just staying in my car and going as far as I could (denial and avoidance for one, please).

Of course, the logical side of my brain knew that, a) I’d eventually run out of gas, and, b) everything wouldn’t just go away.

I’m having that fantasy again…]